The Wonderful World of Miniature Books

By:  Savannah Gulick, Archives & Rare Books Library Student Assistant

Five minature books from the Archives and Rare Books Library collectionsToday at work, while I was thinking about what topic I might want to write my blog post about, I helped Sue Reller look for a miniature book that members of Cincinnati Book Arts Society visiting the Archives & Rare Books Library wanted to see. From taking Kevin Grace’s honors seminar on the Culture of Books & Reading I had learned that ARB owns the smallest book in the world – only legible by using a magnifying glass!!!  But I never realized the entire collection of miniatures that the library owned is around 250 books. Needless to say, I was inspired by the number and the fact that not many people know the archives houses such a large collection of them or that miniature books existed – a world of its own! The attention to detail in all the books astounds me, from the beautifully marbled end papers to exquisite drawings and illustrated covers.

Savannah Gulick with a minature book on the Cincinnati RedsFrom the collection, I chose a few that stood out for me. The first one that caught my eye was a tiny red book about the Cincinnati Reds. As we are nearing Opening Day, I thought that one would be a perfect book with which to start. The book discusses the history of the Cincinnati Reds from its founding as the legendary Red Stockings – the first professional baseball team – all the way to the mid-1990s when they won the World Series under the leadership of manager Lou Piniella.

Cover of Elena Sipitsova's Miniature Album of DrawingsThe next book was a bit larger but contained beautiful drawings by a famous Russian painter, Elena Shipitsova. The drawings compiled by Yaroslav Kostyuk are her illustrations of the works by one of the greatest Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin. The simple pencil sketches are stunning and fit perfectly into the miniature book. The golden, glittery cover of the compilation contrasts the simple nature of the drawings.

Drawings from Elena Shipitsova's book of drawings

A few semesters ago, I had the chance to study abroad in Ireland that led me to taking a side trip to London. I visited the Tower of London and the exhibition of the crown jewels, so when I spotted a mini book that highlighted all of them I had to choose that one. The book is bound in a beautiful, vibrant purple that reminds me of royalty. The crown jewels are so-called because they play a part in each new sovereign’s coronation. Each piece in the collection contains so much history, and the mini book does a wonderful job highlighting the important facts.

The Crown Jewels - Cover page and a page of text

Cover of the book Children's LiteratureThe fourth book I’m highlighting is titled Children’s Literature by Harriett Campbell. As a high school literature teacher, Campbell had never taught a course on children’s books but someone in her department requested that a new course be taught – Children’s Literature. The course would take a look at some of the most famous children’s stories across all ages and analyzed from a teenage/adult perspective. As someone who loves reading of any kind, I thought this was such a clever idea. So many children are read to by their parents or guardians when they’re younger that it is brilliant to look at the same books a decade later. The books bring back memories of their childhoods and engage students in the literature and discussions about it. I love the concept and the binding is a vibrant green with a silver script for the title.

The endpages and first page of the book Children's Literature

The last book was written by Christopher Owen Irwin. It is titled Comets and has a gorgeous navy cover with a shooting star illustration in gold. Comets touches on the history of comet astronomy beginning in 539 A.D. up to 1975 and includes the most famous ones that have been discovered. Having never taken an astronomy course, the book is a quick way to learn about all the comets and the history behind them. I also included a photo of this book’s marbled end papers to highlight some of the beautiful work done with the binding.

Cover and end pages of Comet

The Archives & Rare Books Library’s collection of miniature books is amazing and I highly recommend stopping by to view some of the collection. For more information about the miniature book collection or any of the other collections housed in the archives, visit the Archives & Rare Books Library on the 8th floor of Blegen Library.  We are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm.  You can also call us at 513.556.1959, email us at, visit us on the web at., or have a look at our Facebook page,